Thursday, May 27, 2004
Straw Man

In order to rubbish the claims of the Tories about passing foreign policy to the EU, Jack Straw resorted to satire in front of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, lampooning the ambassadors froom smaller countries.

In an attempt to reassure Eurosceptics, who fear that the new EU constitution will create a rival diplomatic service, the foreign secretary took a swipe at the officials who run the EU's 128 overseas offices.

"You find all sorts of odd bods running these sorts of odd offices," Mr Straw told the Commons foreign affairs select committee. "There are a lot of these people abroad and it is not entirely clear what they are doing."

To laughter from MPs on the committee, the foreign secretary lampooned the airs and graces assumed by some of the EU "diplomats".

He said: "All sorts of people are referred to as ambassadors. I meet them every day. What's astonishing is the less important the country, the more people like this they seem to have. I call everybody Excellency, which doesn't cause any problem."

Straw may have obtained a laugh but it is doubtful that he defused the rightful fears of those who understand the universal sovereignty that the European Constitution imparts. To reassure everyone of his own irrelevance and final divorce from conservatism, the nativist Patten wrote to Straw, criticising his comments as ridiculous and inappropriate.

(22.48, 27th May 2004)


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